Leyna Bloom stormed the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year when she became the first trans woman of color to star in a film premiering at the prestigious event. And now, all those who read about Port Authority, the Martin Scorsese-backed debut film by Danielle Lessovitz, finally got a real taste of what's in store.
The story follows Paul, played by Fionn Whitehead, and Wye, played by Leyna Bloom, who wind up as a bit of New York's modern day Romeo and Juliet. He, the white cisgender newly-arrived Manhattan transplant, and she the Black, trans ballroom kid voguing on the side of the street with her friends. It's a set-up for an interesting plot, centered around Paul and his realization of his burgeoning feelings for what he later realizes is a trans woman, but it also injects ballroom culture a bit, with real authenticity as members of the actual community are cast. We watch those members vogue and walk various categories in the trailer.
The reviews out of Cannes have been mostly positive, citing the project as Bloom's break out. And with good reason: it's a first for the former model. But there have been some who have said they wish there was more of the ballroom aspect of the community as it injected energy into the story.
One reviewer leaned into this, dubbing the film problematic as a result. "This film is less a focus on ballroom or trans culture and more about a straight, white, male interloper who navigates a space he's unfamiliar with," Valerie Complex wrote for Awards Watch. "Boring."
"In a time where moviegoers are longing for and embracing diverse storytelling, movies like Port Authority are a reminder there is still a long way to go in terms of who is telling these stories, how these types of stories are told, and identifying the right audience for things like this," Complex wrote later. "It does a great disservice to marginalized communities when they can't exist outside of the protagonist's intentions. Please stop making movies like this."